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By: Erin Smith

JacksonFour-month old Jackson Tucker looks every bit the healthy, happy baby. His mother Heather Tucker said that those that meet Jackson have no idea he is battling a very chronic form of childhood leukemia called JMML .

JMML is a very rare childhood blood cancer that is a chronic form of childhood leukemia. The only cure is a bone marrow transplant. There will be a Bone Marrow Registry Drive at Nissan of Clinton on Saturday, June 4, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The dealership is located at 412 Southeast Boulevard, Clinton.

The drive is open to anyone between the ages of 18 and 44. The spark for the Bone Marrow Donor Registry Drive was a customer of Nissan of Clinton who had a child diagnosed with JMML.

Jackson is by all accounts a happy baby, laughing and playing and exploring his world. He enjoys music and television and looking at the lights. He is the son of Reginald and Heather Tucker of Salemburg and has a 14-year-old brother, Mason. 

Heather said, “He’s a very happy baby. He’s gaining weight, he’s meeting all of his developmental goals. He’s a joy to be around.”

Jackson is also battling a very serious illness—juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia or JMML. It is a type of cancer of the blood and affects mostly children under the age of 4 years old.  According to childrenscancer.org, JMML can occur when the body produces too many immature white blood cells in the bone marrow.

“It is a very rare form (of cancer). It occurs in 1 to 2 children in every one million,” said Heather.

Heather said the family’s medical odyssey began on Easter Sunday when Jackson became ill. She said the family had just been discharged from the hospital when they received the telephone call.

“It was probably the most devastating day of my life,” said Heather.

She said that she was determined that they were going to fight it and win.

“It doesn’t just affect Jackson. It affects the whole family,” said Heather.

Heather said the only hope for a cure for Jackson is a bone marrow transplant. Currently, Jackson is receiving chemotherapy.  On Tuesday, Jackson was laughing and playing merrily following his first chemotherapy treatment. Heather Tucker said the chemotherapy will not cure the cancer.

Heather said in a lot of cases, family members or a sibling are a match, but in Jackson’s situation, that was not the case. Heather said that is reason for the bone marrow drive that will be held on Saturday at Nissan of Clinton.

Testing is painless and very simple. Heather said that those wishing to be tested will receive a simple mouth swab. She said the samples will be sent Match.org for testing and if you are determined to be a match either for Jackson or someone else, the Bone Marrow Donor Registry will contact you and let you know what to do next.

“The goal for the day is to find as many matches as possible for as many people as possible,” said Heather.

She said that blood type does not matter. Heather said that matching is based on your bone marrow type and that is determined through looking at certain markers in one’s DNA.

“We hope this will not only help Jackson, but that it will help a lot of others as well,” said Heather.

If you are unable to attend the drive, you can join the registry at: http://join.bethematch.org/Jackson.

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